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The g'mara on B'rachot 64a quotes R. Avin Halevi as saying that when we depart from a person we should say "go to peace" (like Yitro to Moshe), not "go in peace" (like David to Avshalom), but that when we depart from the dead we say "go in peace" (based on Psalm 84). A note in my Soncino translation says that this departure from the dead refers to leaving the funeral procession.

I've never learned that I'm supposed to say anything to the meit (dead person) at this point. I'm not part of my local chevra kadisha, so I don't know if any non-psalm speech is involved, but I had thought not. (And anyway, that would be earlier than the note suggests.)

Are we supposed to, essentially, verbally say goodbye to the meit at the end of the funeral procession? If not, did we ever? If not, what is this g'mara referring to?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

The Rambam (Hil. Avel, 4:4) presents this custom as halacha, and he is followed by many other rishonim including the Rokeach (Hil. Aveilus, 313), Sefer HaAgudah (B'rachos, Chapter 9), Kol Bo (§ 114), and the Ramban (Toras HaAdam, Sha'ar HaSof, Inyan HaHotza'ah).

This custom is also presented by such later authorities as the Beit Yosef (YD 376) and, more recently, the Mishnah Berurah (110:17).

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Thanks I couldn't seem to find him on Wikipedia. I added them here because they are more unusual sources to quotes so this way people can more easily put them in historical context (rishon/achron ashkenaz/sefardi etc.). –  Double AA Oct 4 '12 at 18:39
    
Fred, I don't see the relevance of your second paragraph to the question, which makes me wonder whether "this" in your first paragraph actually refers to what was asked in the question. –  msh210 Oct 4 '12 at 20:00
    
@msh210 The second para addressed a more general question suggested by the title "Are we supposed to talk to the dead"? Yes, the first paragraph does in fact refer to the specific custom asked about in the question. Sorry about the confusion. –  Fred Oct 5 '12 at 1:24
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Fred, yes IMO, especially if my edit to the question doesn't get reverted, but, really, even if it does, since the question is the body and the title is just a title. –  msh210 Oct 5 '12 at 2:08
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Sorry for the confusion my header caused. Thanks for the edits. –  Monica Cellio Oct 5 '12 at 2:54
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